Vision TV Channel Canada

Songs of Freedom: Measha Brueggergosman on her Family’s Journey to Canada

This Black History Month, VisionTV is proud to share an encore presentation of the award-winning music documentary, “Songs of Freedom with Measha Brueggergosman.”

In this film, Brueggergosman brings viewers on her quest to learn more about her family’s storied lineage, which stretches from Cameroon, Africa to Canada’s Maritimes. What’s more, the acclaimed soprano performs her favourite freedom songs, pieces of music that “emerged from Africa via the slave trade to America, then to Canada via the United Empire Loyalist migration and the Underground Railroad.”

VisionTV will be airing “Songs of Freedom” in a four-episode version that’ll run Fridays from February 3-24 at 10pm ET/7pm PT. 

Brueggergosman recently released the “Songs of Freedom” album, “a collection of songs about emancipation, family, faith and discovery.” If you’d like a copy, enter here for your chance to win the CD! Contest closes Wednesday, February 22 at 11:59pm ET.

To get you set for the third episode of “Songs of Freedom,” here is Brueggergosman discussing how she traced her roots and the bravery that it took for her family to make it over to Canada.

-Adam Grant

Measha Brueggergosman: During my personal quest to discover the origins of my Gosman family roots on my father’s side of the family I’ve had to perform a little research. With the help of historian David States and the Nova Scotia Archives, I’ve gone back far enough to figure out how and when we came to Canada. I found the Gosman name in an entry of the Book of Negroes, a recorded list of all of the enslaved blacks (known as Black Loyalists) who gained their freedom in Canada by fighting with the British military during the American War of Independence in the late 1700s. In 1779 John Gosman became a Black Loyalist when he ran away from his Colonial enslaver, Daniel Lathem of New London, New England, to join the British troops. The Book of Negroes is the first recorded evidence of John Gosman, my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.

In the Book of Negroes I found the names of some of my ancestors: John Gosman, 23, his wife, Rose Gosman, 21, and their daughter, Fanny, five months. Fanny Gosman was the first free-born Gosman. It’s amazing to see part of my last name on a document that marked the beginning of the Gosman line in Canada as free people. 

Throughout the War of Independence, slavery continued in full force and fleeing was harder than ever. Entire families risked their lives to seek freedom under extremely dangerous conditions. Many doubted the British would even keep their promise of emancipation. A number of escaped slaves were re-captured by the Americans only to be re-enslaved, hanged or lynched. Our ancestors were very courageous to have done what they did. If John Gosman hadn’t risked his life to get his name in that book and make it on the ship that took him and his family to Nova Scotia, I would not be here right now.